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Moorpark will get a different Valencia

CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION NORTHERN DIVISION SEMIFINAL MOORPARK (11-1) AT VALENCIA (12-0), 7 P.M.

Posted: December 4, 2009 10:36 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2009 4:30 a.m.
 

Same situation, same teams.

Last year, Valencia was turned away by Moorpark at Valencia High in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division semifinals.

In the Vikings’ locker room, the mood was made ever more somber by the seniors who cried in realization that it was their last high school football game.

A group of then-Vikings juniors stood together and made a pact.

“The juniors made it our personal goal — to win CIF. ... We said, ‘We’re not going out like this,’” said Valencia defensive end Darrol Mitchell.

Now the Vikings have a chance to get closer to that goal.

Again, the Vikings (12-0) will host Moorpark (11-1) in the Northern Division semifinals tonight at 7 p.m.

Last year, Valencia head coach Larry Muir said, doesn’t matter.

Yet Vikings defensive back Jabari Howard said there is a major difference from last year to this year.

“We just have a lot more confidence coming in,” the senior said. “Last year, we might have been a little intimidated.”

The most recent bout of confidence comes from the Vikings’ bounce-back last Friday.

After surviving in the first round of the postseason against Thousand Oaks in a 28-27 down-to-the-wire thriller, the Vikings made quick work of Buena with a 49-22 victory.

All season long, Valencia had put up big offensive numbers.

They stalled against Thousand Oaks, then got things right last week.

“That’s one of the big things we emphasized this year — the ability to focus week to week,” Muir said.

Another thing has been preparation.

Valencia has done its best to anticipate what the other team will do.

There’s no secret with Moorpark.

The Musketeers will run the ball and play a strong defensive game.

The Vikings expect to see Brody Rohach and Utah-bound Brian Blechen at quarterback.

Rohach gets the motor running on the Musketeers’ short-passing game and Blechen is the wheels for the team’s running game.

Make that one of the wheels.

Diminutive running back Austin Edmonson has gained 1,286 yards rushing this season, while Tyler Peterson has proven to be a solid backup, averaging 6.4 yards per carry.

But it’s Moorpark’s defense that has been the story for the Musketeers this season.

The Musketeers have held opponents to seven points or less in seven games this season, including the last two playoff games.

“It all goes back to our defensive coordinator Ron Wilford and how they prepare for each game,” said Moorpark head coach Tim Lins. “(Last Friday’s opponent) Camarillo took it down field on the first drive, got five first downs. Then we made a couple of adjustments after that.”

Moorpark won the game 49-7.

One thing Lins said is different about Valencia than other teams the Musketeers have faced is the Vikings’ explosiveness.

There is no secret that Valencia scores a lot.

But the Vikings haven’t seen a defense like Moorpark this season.

Valencia quarterback Alex Bishop has been accurate, to the tune of a 76 percent completion percentage. Last week, he also set the school record for touchdown passes in a season with 36. The receiving corps has been solid. Steven Manfro has nine 100-plus yard rushing games this season.

But what will they do when they feel pressure?

“We’ve got to show patience,” Muir said. “We’ve got to keep punching, keep working, never get frustrated.”

And lastly, have confidence.

 

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